I was a resident in Medical College when this happened.

Two patients were admitted at the same time to the ICCU with heart attacks . One was a personality very high up in the judiciary. Tall, fair and handsome, with blue green eyes, he cut a striking figure. Also, being a VIP, he got the best possible care. The staff was very attentive not only because of his status, but also because of his jovial and attractive personality. He loved delving deep into any subject, and it was a delight, understanding the finer points of cricket, like field positions, bowling and batting techniques from him. He took the same pains to understand everything about his disease, which he insisted we attending doctors teach him with diagrams of the heart and its blood supply. He had been a tennis player of some repute, besides indulging in an occasional game of golf and cricket. Even in his late fifties, he was extremely fit. How then did he get a heart attack? Maybe it was the stress from his high-pressure job . But he had accepted his problem quite well and was an obedient patient because he had great admiration and regard for our chief of cardiology.

The second patient was a police constable. He was of medium height, besides being a smoker and tobacco chewer. He also had uncontrolled blood pressure . He had been extremely irregular with his checkups and medications. He also had absolutely no idea what a heart attack was and even when we explained it to him he did not seem to understand much. He hated lying down quietly with a scary looking monitor attached to him. Maybe he was also pining for a smoke and some tobacco to chew.

Whatever the reason, he was restless and any amount of reassurance could not keep him lying down quietly. After a week he became extremely restless and as the resident on duty I saw that his monitor was showing alarmingly irregular waves . Immediately I got to work and along with the ICU sister, gave him shocks to bring his heart back to its normal regular beat. I was doing this for the first time, but in the absence of the senior resident, I had to act quickly. Luckily, this proved successful, but the patient himself slipped into a coma . Our professor hated losing any of his patients in the ICU and so we residents worked round the clock to try and keep him stable with the hope that he would regain consciousness. After three days of intensive management, the constable came out of his coma and within an hour had recovered enough to ask for some tea.

Needless to say, everyone was very happy, including the other patients! When he was told that he had come back from the jaws of death , he was very grateful and promised that from henceforward he would strictly obey orders. He stuck to his promise.

The VIP patient, requested permission to be able to talk to the constable, and was allowed to do so. When he received a call from a personality who he regarded with a great deal of awe, the policeman listened attentively and the short morale boosting conversation seemed to lift his spirits even further.
After this mishap, both the patients made a steady recovery. The VIP was shifted to the best private room in the hospital while the constable remained in the general ward till he could be rehabilitated enough to go home. We resident doctors spent a lot of spare time with the VIP patient and learnt many things about the judiciary from him. In turn, he would ask us a lot of questions on the human body, which we were glad to answer.

Finally the day arrived for both the patients to go home. One knew every aspect of his illness and the other just had blind faith in the attending doctors, being still almost ignorant about what a heart attack was. Our professor was happy that both of them were going home in a very stable state . But a fortnight later, the worst possible news was received. The VIP had suffered another massive attack and passed away before he could be admitted to hospital. The police constable continued his recovery.
What had gone wrong? Had too much knowledge led to stress and another attack in the case of the VIP?
And as for the police constable—-is there less stress in ignorance?

*These are real case stories, but the names of patients have been changed to hide their identity.

Dr. Geeta has over 41 years of experience as a practicing doctor in Internal Medicine. Dr. Geeta is a prolific writer and has been writing health books since the year 2002 and two of her books published are best sellers – Health after Forty and A-Z of Bone Muscle & Joint diseases. She has worked as an honorary Physician in several hospitals including Dr BL Kapoor memorial hospital Delhi and Poona Hospital and research center Pune. At present, she has her consultancy practice at Pune.

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